Nei payasam or Aravana payasam is a famous offering in the temples of Kerala. It is the main prasadam offered to millions of pilgrims at Sabarimala during the Mandala and Makara Vilakku festivals. It is also a traditional offering during Bhagavathi Sevai, a pooja performed in the month of Karkitakam/Aadi on any Friday between 15th July to 15th Aug to seek goddess Bhagavati's blessings for health, wealth and prosperity for the entire family.
Nei means ghee. Nei payasam literally means ghee payasam. Nei payasam is made on the kumutti (a charcoal grill) in an uruli - a heavy brass utensil used in Kerala. It is made with rice, jaggery and ghee.
Here is the recipe.
Raw rice - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 11/2 cupGhee- 1/2 cup or less
Water -1/2 cup to melt jaggery
Cashew - 10 - 15
Raisin - 10 - 15
Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
Pressure cook the rice with enough water such that the rice grains are separate but cooked well. It should not be sticky.
Melt Jaggery in a pan with the water. Strain and remove any impurities from the jaggery. Now boil the jaggery syrup for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add the cooked rice to the jaggery syrup. Mix well so that no lumps are formed. You can mix the rice by removing the pan from the stove and placing it back once it has mixed properly.
Add 2 - 3 tbsp of ghee to this mixture and keep stirring in a low heat. The ghee should be added at equal intervals to avoid the mixture sticking to the pan.
This has to be cooked till the mixture leaves the sides of the vessel.
Once the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, remove from the stove.
In a small pan add ghee and fry seperately the cashews and coconut till they are brown. Now fry the raisins till they puff.
Garnish the payasam with the fried cashew, coconut and raisins.
This payasam stays for 3-4 days without refrigeration. It tastes really good when it is hot.
Preparation time: About 40 - 45 mins
Serves: 2 people